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UK joint task force

UK Joint Task Force head says territories ‘moving back towards normality’ after Hurricane Irma devastation

 TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, Oct. 8, CMC – One month after the most powerful hurricane in decades pummeled the Caribbean, head of the United Kingdom (UK) Joint Task Force, Chris Austin, says life in affected British Overseas Territories is “moving back towards normality.”

“We have had a month of extensive emergency relief – stopping people from getting blown away, and giving them basic shelter and basic foods,”  Austin told the British Press Association.

UK joint task force “Through to schools now reopening, airports and ports are functioning, hospitals functioning, power is being reconnected, the water supply fixed – all of those things we have helped with, largely with the brilliant military effort,” he added. “So, the next stage is how we are going to get the economy rebooted.”

Austin said across the Turks and Caicos, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands (BVI), the territories “are in different ways, open for tourists,” adding that hotel bookings and cruise ships are starting to “line themselves up.”

“It is moving back towards normality, but it is still pretty rough; and there will be people in all of those territories who have got it worse than others.”

At least 38 people were killed in the Caribbean by Hurricane Irma, with the weather  also blamed for manydeaths across the American states of Florida, South Carolina and Georgia.

Less than two weeks later, the region was rocked by a second major storm, Hurricane Maria, which narrowly missed hitting the affected British Overseas Territories with full force – but decimated Dominica and Puerto Rico.

To date, the UK government has pledged £57 million towards hurricane relief efforts, and announced an additional £5 million in financial support for the island of Dominica.

More than 132 tons of UK aid has also already arrived in the region and at the peak of relief efforts, there were more than 2,000 UK military personnel working in the Caribbean – “making it the largest deployment of British troops anywhere in the world.”

But Austin said that the military response is now “drawing down”, stating: “They will have pretty much left by the middle of next week.”

UK International Development Secretary, Priti Patel, who visited the BVI and Anguilla days after Hurricane Maria barreled through the Caribbean, said there are “signs of daily life getting back to normal.”

“Our UK Task Force is now working with the governments of the overseas territories to help them get on with the vital reconstruction work and to make sure the islands are built back more resiliently than in the past, so a future hurricane won’t be as devastating,” she said.

But, with the hurricane season set to run into November, Austin warned that the recovery is “still quite fragile” and another major storm could “reverse” any progression.

“If there is another hurricane, we are ready to respond as quickly as we did to Irma, which I think was a quick response rather than a slow response,” Austin said.

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oil

ExxonMobil finds more oil in new well offshore Guyana

TEXAS, Oct. 5, CMC –  US based oil giant, Exxon Mobil Corporation on Thursday announced it made a fifth new oil discovery after drilling the Turbot-1 well offshore Guyana.

oilTurbot is ExxonMobil’s latest discovery to date in Guyana, adding to previous discoveries at Liza, Payara, Snoek and Liza Deep.

Following completion of the Turbot-1 well, the Stena Carron drillship will move to the Ranger prospect – an additional well on the Turbot discovery is being planned for 2018.

“ExxonMobil affiliate Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Ltd. began drilling the Turbot-1 well in August and encountered a reservoir of 75 feet of high-quality, oil-bearing sandstone in the primary objective,” said ExxonMobil in a statement.

The well was safely drilled to 18,445 feet in 5,912 feet of water on September 29.

The Turbot-1 well is located in the southeastern portion of the Stabroek Block, approximately 30 miles to the southeast of the Liza phase one project.

“The results from this latest well further illustrate the tremendous potential we see from our exploration activities offshore Guyana,” said Steve Greenlee, president of ExxonMobil Exploration Company.

“ExxonMobil, along with its partners, will continue to further evaluate opportunities on the Stabroek Block,” he added.

The Stabroek Block is 6.6 million acres .

Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited is operator and holds 45 percent interest in the Stabroek Block. Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd. holds 30 percent interest and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Limited holds 25 percent interest.

ExxonMobil, the largest publicly traded international oil and gas company, uses technology and innovation to help meet the world’s growing energy needs.

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Dominica 8

Caribbean disaster experts to discuss ways to assist region during SOTIC conference

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Oct 4, CMC – Leading experts in disaster preparedness and mitigation, recovery, funding, airport development and maintenance among other stakeholders will meet in Grenada net week to discuss ways on how the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) conference in Jamaica in November can assist Caribbean countries battered by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett Wednesday said that the four hour discussions will be held on October 12 as part of the weeklong Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) to be held in St. George’s.

Dominica 8He said it is the hope that the outcome of the meeting could into the special session of the November 27-29 UNWTO conference in Jamaica “and that a document will emerge from SOTIC which will help to inform that session at the Jamaica/UNWTO summit”.

“Recover & Rebuild will focus on the economic cost of the disasters, including the potential impact on gross domestic product, employment, the cost to rebuild and the recovery time. Key recommendations emerging from Recover & Rebuild will form part of the comprehensive document which we believe will have industry-wide international significance,” Bartlett said.

He said he was urging all stakeholders within the tourism industry to attend both the Grenada and Jamaica meetings adding that “these two crucial events will help set the course for recovery and growth for all of us over the next year and shape the future of tourism for the Caribbean region”.

Several Caribbean countries, notably, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, St. Maarten were battered by the hurricanes last month as they made their way through the Lesser Antilles leaving a trail of death and destruction estimated at billions of dollars.

Bartlett said that Jamaica “continues to extend our thoughts and prayers to our Caribbean brothers and sisters” and recognises that the entire Caribbean region will be adversely impacted by the lasting results of two hurricanes.

He said Kingston has recognised the efforts of the Barbados-based CTO, in conjunction with the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) as well as the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) in assisting the region and ensuring that timely and accurate information is disseminated.

“We are aware that CTO and CDEMA technical teams have been on the ground in the various islands doing rapid needs assessments and coordinating with the national authorities in managing the various interventions, to mitigate the pain and hardships that are so pervasive at this time.”

He said a meeting held last month in China of the UNWTO and attended by 10 countries from the Caribbean and Latin America agreed on the need “to assist in the Caribbean natural disaster risk management and response initiatives” and to include in the Jamaica conference an opportunity for all interested parties to discuss and implement a plan of action.

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World Bankk

World Bank says remittances to the Caribbean recover modestly after two-year decline

 

WASHINGTON, Oct 4, CMC – The World Bank says remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean are expected to increase by 6.9 per cent to US$79 billion this year.

In the latest edition of the Bank’s Migration and Development Brief, the Washington-based financial institution noted that “economic growth and improvement in the labour market in the United States is having a positive impact on the outlook for remittance flows”.

World BankkDilip Ratha, the lead author of the Brief said “remittances are a lifeline for developing countries; this is particularly true following natural disasters, such as the recent earthquakes in Mexico and the storms devastating the Caribbean.

“It is imperative for the global community to reduce the cost of remitting money, by eliminating exclusivity contracts, especially in the high-income OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries. There is also an urgent need to address de-risking behaviour of global banks,” he added.

However, the report notes growth in remittances to the region will moderate in 2018 to US$82 billion.

The World Bank estimates that officially recorded remittances to developing countries on a whole are expected to grow by 4.8 per cent to US$450 billion for 2017.

It said global remittances, which include flows to high-income countries, are projected to grow by 3.9 per cent to US$596 billion and that the recovery in remittance flows is driven by relatively stronger growth in the European Union, Russian Federation, and the United States.

The Bank says those regions likely to see the strongest growth in remittance inflows this year are Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and Central Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

It said in keeping with an improving global economy, remittances to low- and middle-income countries are expected to grow modestly by 3.5 per cent in 2018, to US$466 billion, adding that global remittances will grow by 3.4 per cent to US$616 billion in 2018.

The Bank noted that the global average cost of sending US$200 remained stagnant at 7.2 per cent in the third quarter of 2017, adding that this was significantly higher than the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of three per cent.

The Brief presents the results of a survey, conducted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD), on recruitment costs paid by low-skilled migrant workers.

Reducing recruitment costs is a part of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of promoting safe, regular and orderly migration. Such costs can be exorbitantly high in some corridors, the Brief noted.

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school feeding

Caribbean countries meet to create pathways to food and nutrition education

BRASILIA, Brazil, Oct 3, CMC – Delegates from several Caribbean countries are meeting here this week to discuss a new vision for school feeding programmes that is being promoted through regional and national interventions based on the fundamental elements of education for sustainability and the production of food for schools.

The interventions aim at strengthening the process of how policies for food and nutritional education in schools are institutionalized in 17 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean, including Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

school feedingThe International Congress of School Feeding Programmes, being held from October 3-5, brings together nutrition and education experts from Brazil, Latin American and Caribbean countries to discuss and disseminate good practices, as well as provide the necessary inputs for building of knowledge of content, methodologies and didactic-pedagogical procedures necessary for the development of qualitative actions of food and nutritional education in schools.

The Congress will focus on three main areas and is expected to generate the opportunity to meet and discuss different perspectives and approaches of the main theme “Food and Nutrition Education”.

The organisers said that discussions will be held through lectures, workshops and exhibitions on topics such as the development of food and nutrition Education concepts, methodologies, best practices, and policies for school feeding programmes, as well as national developments and their impact on School Feeding Policies.

At least 17 countries from Latin America and the Caribbean including Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada are attending the talks being held within the framework of a regional project entitled “Strengthening School Feeding Programmes in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Since 2009, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Brazilian Government, represented by the National Fund for the Development of Education (FNDE / MEC) and the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC / MRE), under the International Cooperation Programme, have been carrying out this regional project.

It is part of the agenda of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) with the aim of achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 on eradicating hunger, achieving food security and improving nutrition.

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Karolin Toubetzkoy

Regional hoteliers launch “One Caribbean Family” initiative

MIAMI, Oct 3, CMC – The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) has launched a booking initiative that allows hotels across the region to help those who have been adversely impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The CHTA said that the initiative will also highlight the fact that more than 70 per cent of Caribbean destinations have not been affected and are ready to welcome visitors as usual.

Karolin Toubetzkoy
Karolin Toubetzkoy

CHTA said that it’s “One Caribbean Family” movement has been developed to help the vital tourism industry get back on its feet and will serve as a hub for hotels, travel advisors and tour operators who would like to make a contribution through guest bookings.

It said donations made through the initiative are sent to the Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund managed by Tourism Cares, a non-profit organization which has partnered with CHTA to anchor the tourism industry’s hurricane recovery efforts in the Caribbean.

“We want to show our solidarity with the Caribbean countries affected by these storms, not just in words but with actions that can bring relief to those in need,” said CHTA president, Karolin Troubetzkoy.

She said while she is encouraged by the initial pledges of support for the One Caribbean Family initiative by some of the region’s hotels and international tour operators and travel advisors, she would like to see more Caribbean hotels and trade partners come on board.

“How can any hotel or hotel chain in the region and our trade partners feel good about securing incremental business as a result of hotel closures due to hurricanes?”

“While this may sound idealistic, the need to come together and act as one Caribbean tourism family has never been greater,” she said, applauding the tourism industry partners who have launched fundraising initiatives of their own, but hopes these will not deter them from also participating in the One Caribbean Family initiative.

“To bring aid to the countries and the people who were affected will be an enormous task, and the One Caribbean Family initiative is a unique way to spread the good word that most of the Caribbean is open for business while helping those destinations most in need,” she opined.

Troubetzkoy said her company is pledging to donate up to US$50 for each booking for travel between October 1, 2017 and December 19, 2018.

“We started this pledge for direct reservations and bookings through our travel advisors, but now we are also including some wholesalers who will match our donation,” she said, adding that guests wishing to make additional contributions to the Fund will receive resort credits up to US$250, depending on their contribution.

“When any part of the region is affected, it hits us so close to home, because the entire Caribbean is our home,” she said, adding “this is one tangible way our tourism community can stand in solidarity with our neighbours.”

The Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund allows tourism industry stakeholders and friends of the region throughout the world to pool their resources in support of vulnerable, devastated parts of the Caribbean that welcome millions of visitors in a region that supports 2.4 million tourism-related jobs.

The Fund’s focus on the recovery of islands directly affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria complements existing relief efforts and gives the tourism industry a way to leverage its resources to help the region bounce back, ideally better than before.

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officer

ECCB launches five year strategic plan

ECCB Governor, Timothy Antoine

The St. Kitts-Based Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) Tuesday unveiled a five-year strategic plan which it said focuses on the goals that are needed to improve the financial institution’s relevance and address more strategically, the expectations of stakeholders in relation to socio-economic transformation.

ECCB Governor, Timothy Antoine, speaking by video conference to all member states to coincide with the launch Financial Information month (FIM), in an earlier Statement said:  “At this point in the region’s history when it is facing unprecedented challenges related to high unemployment and devastating natural disasters, the plan takes cognisance of these and other challenges and is aptly themed: ‘Transforming the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union Together.’

The statement said that the plan outlines a vision for the currency union and the strategic goals which the ECCB seeks to accomplish over a five-year period.

“The ECCB Strategic Plan 2017-2021 has also been crafted at a juncture in the Bank’s development when it is undergoing transition in its organisational culture, structure and strategic outputs and highlights the Bank’s revitalised thrust towards deepening stakeholder engagements and advancing a results-oriented performance culture,” said the ECCB, which acts as a central bank for Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Montserrat, St. Kitts-Nevis, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands.

The plan has five main goals which if achieve the ECCB said, will result in significant changes in the way businesses are conducted, economic plans are developed and changes to the way of life for every citizen of the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

ECCB Governor Timothy Antoine, speaking during the video conference to all member states of the ECCB, with the exception of Dominica and Anguilla that were devastated by hurricanes in recent weeks, said that among the proposals are for the establishment of a resilience fund, the enactment of fiscal responsibility legislation, the establishment of a public debt website based on shared up to date database and the establishment a credit bureau.“So this is something we are encouraging across the region, and we are going to provide support for our governments which decide to adopt fiscal responsibility legislation,’ Antoine said.

“As we speak we have legislation in Anguilla and Grenada, its implied in Montserrat and of course in other countries are engaging them to eventually adopt fiscal responsibility legislation,” said Antoine, who explained that fiscal responsibility legislation is very important for sustaining development when there is minimal growth.

The other goals of the strategic plan include maintaining a strong Eastern Caribbean dollar, ensuring a strong diversify and financial resilient financial section; actively promoting the economic development of the members and to enhance organisational effectiveness to ensure responsiveness and service excellence.

Antoine said that technology will play an important role in the future development of the sub-region whose economy is worth EC$18 billion (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents).

“Technology will have to help diversify our economy, technology has to be that very thing that will make the difference to our future economy,” he said, appealing to policy and decision makers both in the public and private sector to support the initiative.

“Our region needs socio-economic transformation now more than ever, let us go forth with “nowness”, “boldness” and “togetherness,” he said while calling for greater cooperation among the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) members.

The ECCB said that as a result of the new plan, it has adopted  “Advancing the good of the people of the currency union by maintaining monetary and financial stability and promotion growth and development” as its new mission statement.

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Prime Minister R Skerrit

Dominica reiterates importance of agriculture as it rebuilds following Hurricane Maria

ROSEAU, Dominica, Oct 6, CMC – The Dominica government Friday reiterated that the agricultural sector remains ‘a  critical” aspect of the island’s re-development following the passage of Hurricane Maria late month that killed 28 people and left billions of dollars in damages.

“We have said many times since the hurricane, that agriculture is a critical component of our re-building efforts, to ensure that we can start producing food and make food available not only to our domestic markets but also to our export markets in the region,” Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit told the daily news briefing here.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit

He said people in several parts of the part of the island depend on agriculture for their livelihood, sustenance as well as income “and we need to ensure that our people can go back to work in the quickest possible time”.

Skerrit said that a loan facility in place at the Agricultural Industrial and Development (AID) Bank prior to the hurricane, targeted farmers and said ‘we shall be reviewing that financing facility…to allow it to be more robust and more nimble in its application so that those funds can get into the farms, fields and farmers as quickly as possible.

“The idea is to provide both an advance technical assistance to farmers, planting material to farmers, assisting them with the payment of farm labour , to accelerate their planting opportunities,” Skerrit said, adding that the Ministry of Agriculture will outline later on Friday ‘special initiatives” outlined by the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) “which we have greatly accepted”.

Skerrit said that seedlings would be distributed to farmers “but the whole idea is to get farmers back in the fields post haste, to start with the short term crops…things that we can harvest in two to six weeks”.

He said the intention also is to have bananas and plantains available in the country within the next seven months, not only for domestic but for regional consumption.

Skerrit told reporters that his administration is in discussions with the food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), OECS, the European Union, Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and other stakeholders and that the hope is ‘that very soon we shall convene a stakeholders consultation with all of our partners…specifically targeting agriculture and livestock”.

He said the government was also putting in place a national task force  for the resurgence of agriculture in Dominica” with the membership coming from “beyond our boundaries…to monitor, to assess the implementation of the strategy”

Skerrit said instruction had also been given to the Ministry of Agriculture to get the abattoir up and running and provide assistance to livestock farmers in that regard.

Skerrit said that Dominica has not been importing eggs more than 25 years and he hopes that it would remain so as the farmers move quickly to rehabilitate their farms.

“Agriculture for us, food security for us is priority number one and we will be articulating further some of the more specific interventions, specific support we will be providing to the farmers across the country,” Skerrit added.

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Governance hitting a real low, which arm of government?

Governance hitting a real low, which arm of government?

October 6, 2017

We believe this chaos of governance began long ago since HMG seemed to have lost their own focus of good governance and back when Montserrat governments began asking for involvement in the selection and appointment of Governors for the island. We were probably appeased on that matter, we then unknowingly somehow thought, when in mid-late 2000s, Government could propose and select a Deputy Governor.

Perhaps just like how he was recalled functioning as Hon. Speaker from time to time since he retired, he should have been the first substantive Deputy Governor for about a year at least while training. The truth on that however is that we have kept turning away, persons we considered to be suitable for the position. We have had two Deputy Governors with a third acting and in training, within the ten years.

All our Governors, or most of them for many years now have come to us with little or no experience or training through the Foreign Commonwealth office. That has been a burden and more and more, a weakness in our governance. In recent times we have suffered because either we had an experienced political head, taking advantage, or, one who is taken advantage of. We stand ready to hear the full truth of a Governor, who after all the earlier rhetoric, we believe has been recalled posing the problem of having to wait six months before she can be replaced. If we had a substantive Deputy Governor that situation would have been different.

Since hurricanes Irma and Maria there have been some developments, some we’ve reported on, others prior, such as the Gomersall’s firing. We have discovered that all of these as we suggested had a level of corruption that shows that the people involved in making the decisions did so either deliberately in an effort to slow down, ridicule our political leader or worse, ignorantly or otherwise thwarting the progress of the island.

A Montserrat by the way, which has not lost its uniqueness in its need for rebuild and redevelopment, nor is the responsibility and obligation that HMG has lessened in any way, compared to the disasters that some of the other Overseas Territories have experienced; lets add Barbuda and Dominica.

We will find that both Anguilla and BVI are already reporting signs of recovery. Montserrat had been there, and that was our experience. Only that a little less than six years after Hugo, we were to experience an extinction from which 22 years later Montserrat has not yet recovered, not to mention a return to that place in a lifetime perhaps for the person born before 1995.

How is it we landed a Governor who after two years did not understand her roles under her responsibilities, (not power!! As have so long been referred); and her accountability and to whom? Why could she feel she should dare to ridicule, belittle, upstage the Premier on his duty to speak and report to his people and to OECS and CARICOM; worst yet she under her own responsibility had fallen short in reporting on such matters. Just as she admitted in the press conference, which she abruptly ended, after she questioned about being harassed.

It is that corruptible desire, in the face of their own shortcomings and the hearts of others that brought about the circumstances that Her Excellency could not explain her error in boastfully she had signed a declaration for a ‘period of emergency’ under “Your Constitution which you voted for”. That we learnt came in the presence of some 15-20 ENDPRAC meeting participants. Then there was the claim of ‘confidentiality’.  

The Governor’s report on the passage of hurricanes was brief and on brief questions later found wanting but pointing out the shoddiness of the preparation. She promised during her walkout to go into more details at later meets.

Just a quick word on the shocking news, when one listens to or reads about UK parliamentarian Boris Johnson, Theresa May, and DFID’s Priti Patel, it is not only shocking but disgraceful the position that Patel’s Deputy Head brought to Montserrat, when they are urgently talking about making their Territories resilient to be telling Montserrat they will have firstly co-fund the installation of the fibre-optic cable ‘economic’ game changer for Montserrat, something that would be economically beneficial even to the ‘motherland’. This after they have signed off years ago and have put in motion the funding.

Governor Carrier could have used the shortage of time during her press conference for not answering about her knowledge or even involvement in this, but may reconsider for future as the current DFID rep should be prepared to answer as to her knowledge or involvement in that outcome.

See articles in this issue of matters mentioned above

https://www.themontserratreporter.com/fibre-optic-cable-shocker/

https://www.themontserratreporter.com/governor-carriere-claims-harassment-ends-press-conference/

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Jus Wonderin - October 6, 2017

Jus Wonderin – October 6, 2017

October 6, 2017

Jus wonderin if Montserrat’s state of affairs epitomizes Christian doctrine gone bad, sheer madness or both where good meets punishment and evil meets rewards.

Jus wonderin what “data and other confidential information” a transparency – honest – and integrity-centered government have to hide from their partners (like DfID), colleagues and the stakeholders people they supposedly represent.

Jus wonderin if dem person(s) responsible for the termination of the Head of GoM’s Programme Management Office (PMO) considered the ramifications of having no one to manage the delivery of the transformational capital programme.

Jus wonderin if the intent was to further retard the island’s development or just mere corruption intent.

Jus wonderin if we will ever learn the truth about Gomersall’s dismissal–without cause; if the actual reason was made public, would it trigger a huge scandal; and if any of the transformational projects the PMO Head was responsible for delivering will materialize during our lifetime.

Jus wonderin what it means that Montserratians are British citizens other than we have the right of abode in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Jus wonderin if persons lose their human rights once they immigrate to Montserrat as some Montserratians seem to think they ought to and should this extend to the thousands of Montserratians, families and friends who have immigrated to other countries.

Jus wonderin if the UK’s definition of meeting Montserratians’ reasonable needs is limited to the five basic human survival needs:  oxygen, water, food, shelter and sleep.  Well, maybe not shelter.

Jus wonderin if Glendon Hospital—described in the business case presented to DfID for funding as being unfit for purpose—meets our reasonable needs, as defined by the UK.

Jus wonderin when all parties concerned, DfID, aid donors, GoM and the people of Montserrat, will ever agree a definition of “reasonable needs” or when, at least, we can have a common understanding of what the UK means by the phrase.

Jus wonderin if we can trust the UK government not to renege on any commitment it makes.

Jus wonderin what happened to the DfID-funded £4.94 million fiber optic broadband grant for Montserrat that was reported via various media in early January 2017 when a DfID spokesperson said:  Following the devastating eruption in the UK overseas territory, we’ve met our legal obligations to Montserrat by investing in the vital infrastructure needed for the island to stand on its own two feet again.”

Jus wonderin if the UK now believes Montserrat can stand on its own two feet, no longer considers the fiber optic project to be vital infrastructure, or they have fully met their legal obligations to Montserrat.

Jus wonderin if conditions at DfID are so chaotic, the new Deputy Director failed to do his homework, or he was improperly briefed before arriving in Montserrat that when asked about funding for vital infrastructure projects, (including some already approved by his government) Mr Chakrabarti stated that DfID would take the approach they have always taken:  taking everything on a case-by-case basis, looking at value for money, impact, purpose, etc. and would be keen on leveraging joint public-private-IFI (International Financial Institutions) ventures.

Jus wonderin if outgoing British officials don’t prepare handover notes for their replacements and that’s why a new business case has to be prepared for projects that have been in the pipeline for years, in some cases, decades every time a new DfID official comes on the scene.  Or like many politicians and officials, they believe there is nothing worth learning from their predecessors or history and must restart everything from scratch.

Jus wonderin if the new Deputy DFID Director is really unaware that as a UK Overseas Territory (colony), Montserrat cannot borrow money from international financial institutions (per UK restrictions) and that the already approved £4.94 million fiber optic project involved investments from local internet service providers of around £51,000 plus £150,000 from the European Union.

Jus wonderin if the sole purpose of the Governor’s October 2017 press conference was to make us understand once and for all that she is in charge because as she has said, the majority of our enlightened elected leaders approved a constitution that made it so.

Jus wonderin if it is now crystal clear that Montserrat is still a colony and we are responsible for our predicament.

Jus wonderin when Montserrat was last represented at the annual UN Decolonization Committee Seminars and if it is because the Governor didn’t pass on the invitation to the Premier or the invitation got lost in the mail.

Jus wonderin why the Premier met with the Deputy DFID Head immediately after the Governor’s October 2017 press conference.

Jus wonderin why the Premier was not invited to the today October 2017 press conference since neither the Governor nor the Deputy DfID head could tell us anything about what was agreed between Montserrat and the UK because according to the Deputy DfID Head, only GoM could do that.

Jus wonderin if the Governor doesn’t realize that she forms part of Montserrat’s government, de jure. And DfID too for that matter, de facto.

Jus wonderin if the Governor understands the difference between ‘de jure’ and ‘de facto’ (convention) and why the latter may be important in maintaining good intergovernmental relations, especially in 21st century colonial environments.

Jus wonderin if the Governor should seriously consider hiring our esteemed resident constitutional expert, Dr Fergus, to explain the Montserrat Constitution Order 2010 to her, the legislature and all other government officials.

Jus wonderin if de Guvna really tink a-we believe she when she deny dat she tell a room full u people who are not deaf or dumb: “I am declaring a state of emergency,” dat she already sign.

Jus wonderin if a true wa people a say bout de two national pappy shows.

Jus wonderin all who a conspire against who fu dem job in an out u govment and if any u dem a go succeed.

Jus wonderin if a true de Govna and she Deputy a join de udder conspirators a mek trouble fu de Premier.

Jus wonderin who me fu tell when me witness wrongdoing.

Jus wonderin if me expose misconduct wa a go happen to me, protection or retribution and wa de law say bout um.

Jus wonderin if the Governor thinks that I’m harassing her just like she accused the editor of TMR of doing at her recent press conference or if she recognizes that I’m expressing my constitutional right to free expression, without malice.

Jus wonderin what our leaders’ spiritual and technical advisers are telling them and if dat mek dem no tek or ever follow advice proffered.

Jus wonderin if a guilt a talk when we hear on Radio ZJB that we ha fu integrate the elderly into society or me jus misunderstand.

Jus wonderin what percentage of Montserrat’s population is over the age of 55.

Jus wonderin if Minister Lady Macbeth only has confidence in herself and where her ambition will lead her ultimately.

Jus wonderin why some Ministers don’t replace their technical advisers since they clearly have no confidence in them and why some of these advisers remain in such a hostile environment when they would be welcomed with open arms, respect and suitable compensation by many other countries and international organizations that recognize the value of their expertise.

Jus wonderin if I’ll die before Premier finally reveals (as he continually promises) the whole story about everything ‘gone bad’ such as corruption, treachery, why approved projects are delayed, what really happened at MDC, PIU, PMO, Procurement Unit, etc.

Jus wonderin how many of us can admit when we don’t know, know when we don’t know or just pretend we don’t know.

Jus wonderin why anyone would advocate hiring an unqualified Montserratian over a qualified non-Montserratian just so that a few more Montserratians would have money in their pockets, and how Montserrat would benefit, in the short or long term.

Jus wonderin if some government officials, including the governor and most new DfID personnel ever bother to read relevant documents or have basic common sense judging from some of recent comments uttered publicly about documenting lessons learned from the recent hurricane strikes such as the need for backup generators, maintaining equipment, building resilient structures, putting utility cables underground, proper shelters, a radio station that doesn’t go off air at the beginning of every disaster, etc., etc.

Jus wonderin what productive work some of our elected and non-elected officials do with their time during working hours. 

Jus wonderin why some people work so much harder at not doing their job rather than actually performing the functions for which they were hired get paid and yet expect to get performance increments.

Jus wonderin if Montserrat doesn’t have a suitable building code designed for our region’s geography; business cases for a proper hospital that doesn’t require relocation before an imminent natural disaster and a road refurbishment project that includes ducting work includes underground ducts for electricity, water, telephone (fiber optic) and cable TV; inadequate budgets for proper maintenance and replacement of critical equipment and infrastructure like Radio Montserrat.

Jus wonderin if ignorance in hurricane prone Montserrat is an acceptable excuse when it comes to dealing with the preparation for and after-effects of a severe hurricane rather than accepting accountability for things that could reasonably have been prevented via “robust infrastructure.”

Jus wonderin if we are going to wait for mass casualties before appropriate corrective action is taken for things we know gone bad.

Jus wonderin wa we a go do when the Carrs Bay culvert collapses or the one at Soldier Ghaut, pretend we didn’t know about the structural problems for at least six years?

Jus wonderin since people won’t read documents that ought to be readily available, if it wouldn’t be prudent to rehire or at least consult those with institutional memory before it is too late to clue in the clueless and prevent calamity or are we just too paranoid to trust anyone or just plain wicked.

Jus wonderin if anyone is maintaining the library at the Development Unit or if government departments still send copies of important studies, reports and papers to the public library.

Jus wonderin if all of our elected and non-elected governments have acknowledged that Montserrat is in crisis and will do what reasonable people do in such situations:  work together to save ourselves and our island for future generations plus preserve their pay checks for at least two more years and gain a pension if the new ones can last six full years.

Just wonderin if the maxim that we learn from our mistakes is true.

Jus wonderin if we’d be bored without the wickedness, desperation, ignorance and stupidity.

Posted in International, Jus Wonderin, Local, News, Police0 Comments

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The Montserrat Reporter - August 18, 2017

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